A contender for the leadership of Canada’s opposition Conservative Party was unflatteringly compared with Christopher Columbus this week and reminded that aboriginal Indians and people from India are different.The politician, Stephen Harper, had to apologize after his office sent a letter to a native group, the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centers, congratulating it on a holiday celebrating India’s independence from Britain.
Wrong Indians. And the mistake prompted a stinging rebuke from federation president Rick Lobzun, who said Harper’s letter, sent in January, recalled Columbus’s error of mistaking America for India.
“This is 2004, Mr. Harper, not 1492 … the last time a man got lost looking for India,” Lobzun said.
Harper’s spokeswoman, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, said his office had used student interns to compile a database of Indo-Canadian and other groups as part of an outreach program and had gotten this one wrong.